healthcare administrationIn the 1960s and 70s, when young men and women selected healthcare administration as a career, it was as much a calling as a profession.  Either way, it was a job with enormous certainty and security—an industry outlook that consistently touted ample jobs and opportunity for advancement. 

Now we are entering a new era.  It will begin as change as the effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aka, Obamacare—take hold.  While there will be benefits for many consumers, there will be challenges for the providers—hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, home care, etc.—primarily as the result of cuts in federal spending.

There are many in the industry who have concluded—rationalized is the more accurate term—that while the reductions in Medicare will be deep, the industry will again adapt as was the case with the introduction of Medicare in the 1960s, Prospective Payment in 1983, and the Balanced Budget Act in 1998.  But that belief ignores the magnitude of the financial crisis facing our country. 

This time it will be different.  There is only so much cost that can be cut from the existing inefficient business model that is loaded with perverse financial incentives that emphasize expensive sick care versus population health management.  Over the next 10 years, we will experience sweeping transformation in the way we deliver care and what our businesses look like. 

So how does a healthcare executive manage his or her career in the face of such a tectonic shift?  Here are  three planning essentials to consider when building a personal brand management strategy: 

  1. Be prepared.  Build a track record of success with challenging assignments.  Take risks, albeit calculated ones, that will position you to be in the forefront. Leaders who play it safe will not get a chance for the best jobs. Turnover from retirements and the realization by Boards that they need to strengthen their leadership if they hope to survive will create a record number of corner office opportunities.
  2. Be selective and careful with your near-term career choices.  Do not let your blind desire to be a C-suite leader NOW overwhelm your judgment or the facts.  Look at the turnover rate of the prospective employer.  There are several firms that are constantly looking for CEOs.  There is a reason.  One Nashville area hospital management company brags about how they “chew up CEOs, CFOs and CNOs because we have high expectations.”  Do your homework and pace your career.  Do not be in a hurry.  There will be plenty of time and more than ample opportunity for good leaders to achieve their career goals.
  3. Manage Your Community, Industry Image.  Do not get so focused on your own career and personal responsibilities that you do not take the time for professional development, mentoring of up and coming talent, or to become a thought leader.  Healthcare is still a risk-adverse industry but the transformation of healthcare delivery will provide unparalleled opportunity for innovation.  Get outside your comfort zone.  For example, if you are a senior executive in a hospital, build strong relationships with payors and other healthcare leaders in home care, emergency medical services, and long-term care.  They will be critical to your future success. 

© 2012 John Gregory Self